A. Price Monitoring Cell (PMC)
Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) in the Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for monitoring prices of selected essential commodities. The activities of the cell include monitoring of the retail and wholesale prices, and spot and future prices of selected essential commodities on a daily basis. Prices are reported daily on the website. Also, there is limited circulation of hard copies of the price reports to disseminate information on price situation to the policy makers on a daily basis. Price Monitoring Cell analyses the price situation and gives advance feedback for taking preventive measures to help policy interventions at appropriate time to prevent undesired shortfall in the availability of essential commodities. In the event of shortage of any specific essential commodity and to keep price of the item under control, Price Monitoring Cell also implements commodity-specific market intervention schemes to give temporary relief to the consumers.
B. Price Monitoring
Price is monitored for twenty two essential commodities (Rice, Wheat, Atta, Gram Dal, Tur (Arhar) Dal, Urad Dal , Moong Dal, Masur Dal, Sugar, Gur, Groundnut Oil, Mustard Oil, Vanaspati, Sunflower Oil, Soya Oil, Palm Oil, Tea, Milk, Potato, Onion, Tomato and Salt) based on data collected from 109 market centres spread across the country representing North, West, East, South and North-eastern regions of the country. The Quality and variety of the item for which prices are reported may vary from centre to centre but remains the same for a given centre. Generally, prices are reported for the Fair Average Quality of the item for a given centre. Every centre has a standard quality and variety of item for which prices are reported by them. Data feeding network and data base of prices (daily price data) are maintained by the NIC cell of the Department of Consumer Affairs under the supervision of Price Monitoring Cell.
C. Sources of Price Data
Retail and wholesale prices of 22 commodities from 109 centers are received daily from the State Civil Supplies Departments of the respective State Governments through online or by fax or email. Attempts are being made to encourage cent per cent online data feeding by the States/Centres. Spot and Future Prices of select essential commodities are collected daily from National Commodity Exchange (NCDEX) by e-mail and monitored.
D. Production and Dissemination of Price Reports
Daily Price Report consists of the following:
- Retail and wholesale prices of the selected 22 essential commodities in Delhi and the variations in prices over different time periods i.e. one week back, one month back, three months back, six months back, one and two years back.
- Daily Retail and wholesale prices of the 22 commodities from 109 centers.
- Variation in retail and wholesale prices of select commodities from 109 centers over a fortnight.
- Spot and Future Prices of select essential food items which are traded in the National Commodity Exchange.
E. Monitoring of other relevant and probable determinants of Prices
Price Monitoring Cell also monitors other variables at the national and global level that are likely to impact prices. National level variables that are monitored include Wholesale Price Index , Consumer Price Index , Prices of major vegetables in India , Minimum Support Price, Spot and Future Prices of food and non-food items in India, Production of major crops, Crop area under various crops, Stocks of essential commodities , Government Procurement of Essential Commodities, International and domestic prices of pulses as obtained from NAFED, and Imports and Exports of Essential Commodities. Global level variables that are monitored include: International Food Price Index, Consumer Price indices of different countries, Data on trade and commodity prices and World Agricultural Supply-Demand estimates.
F. Price Analysis and Policy Intervention
The prevailing price situation as well as factors which impact on prices, in both domestic and international markets, are studied and brought to the notice of high level committees, such as Committee of Secretaries (COS), Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), through agenda notes prepared for their meetings, for appropriate action at the policy level. This note reviews the following:
- Inflation based on Wholesale Price Index.
- Area and Production of major food crops.
- Price scenario of Essential Commodities
- Domestic Spot and Futures Prices of Essential Commodities
- International Futures Prices
- World Markets and Trade scenario of foodgrains
- Commodity-wise details for wheat, rice, sugar, pulses, edible oils, vegetables and milk containing Area and Production scenario, Procurement scenario, domestic and international prices, and World Markets and Trade Scenario for the specific commodity.
The decisions taken at the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) / Committee of Secretaries (COS) meetings are conveyed to the Ministries /Departments concerned to take appropriate action. The decisions taken in these meetings are implemented by the Ministry/Department concerned which is charged with the responsibility of the subject matter of the decision. Department of Consumer Affairs (PMC) monitors the action taken on those decisions by the concerned Ministries/Departments and submits the action taken report before the Cabinet/CCEA/COS. Of late, work have been initiated to analyse commodities price volatilities in India at the instance of G-20 Study Group on Commodities Price Volatilities in which Principal Adviser is a representative from this Department.
G. Market Intervention Schemes
Regular retail price reviews have been instrumental in deciding on strategies for market intervention to stabilize the market and ensure that shortages do not adversely affect the consumers, particularly the vulnerable section of the population. In this context, market intervention activities undertaken for pulses and certain vegetables like onion deserve special mention. Such Market Intervention Schemes are introduced as and when required.
H. Parliament Question and RTI
In addition to the above, Price Monitoring Cell also handles Parliament questions and RTIs relating to prices and market intervention schemes.